Tuesday, January 30, 2018

The Changing Face of Publishing

For anyone in this business, they clearly see that the publishing world of today is far from the publishing world of the past (or even the last several years). Some of these changes are for the good and clearly, some are not heading in the right direction (IMHO).

I know that there are many authors out there frustrated with the new face of publishing and, for that reason, they are off to the self-publishing and independent publishing opportunities. I fully understand their decisions, and, those who are making it, I fully applaud and support. Unfortunately, I do believe it is this move that is also leading to many of the problems we are seeing out there in publishing now - It all comes down to supply and demand.

There are simply far too many authors out there to support the declining reading population. Let's talk about these for a minute, and I want to start with the second element.

I have mentioned this before on the blog, but people are simply not reading anymore, and the scary part is that it is extending all of the way down to the K-12 system of our education here in North America. Think back to your earlier days in school. The odds are, you read a lot more, either through independent reading opportunities, or even the novels the class read. During my first years of teaching, my classes read anywhere between 5-8 novels a year, as well as independent reading. My two daughters who are currently in 11th and 7th grade AP and Honors classes are reading far less than that. My 11th grader has read 1 novel in the last 2 years of Pre-AP and AP classes. When she hits the 12th Grade AP class, they will be assigned 3 novels, but (here is the catch), they don't even read the whole novel, but just sections the teacher felt important. My 7th grade will read 2 novels this year and 2 next year (and also just the sections the teacher felt important).

Getting out of the education community, we are really seeing far less with readers. All of those digital devices we now carry around with us are used only to steam the latest shows we're binge watching. We also use it for all of your social media needs, but reading? I don't think so.

So, how does this connect to publishing? If people are not reading, then publishers are not selling. If publishers don't sell, then book stores close. Add in the fact that people are inherently becoming lazy and realize it is just easier to "buy things online" and that creates more and more of the stores closing.

But, we are still back to the number of authors. As I have said in the past, self-publishing opportunities have created the image that everyone can be a published author. As much as I do believe everyone out there can write, I do no, nor will I ever believe everyone can reach that "published author" level. Yes, their books my be published, but I view many of these people as simply having their books printed. If the writing is bad, the crafting is not there, or the story is simply not something anyone other than close friends would want to read, then I would not classify that writer as moving into that next level of writing.

And yet, the market is flooded with these authors.

So we are back to the publishers again and their stance when it comes to reviewing new works coming in, or marketing those books they currently have. We are turning away a lot more authors today than we did in the past. The quality of the writing is simply not there. There are also publishers who find that, with no major bookstores to sell to, have turned to that digital model more and more. While the initial money spent to put the book into that final form is the same, the cost of doing massive print runs just decreased significantly with digital only books. No paper. No ink. No storage. No shipping.

Do I know where this industry is heading? No. I really wish I did. What I do see, however, is a move away from literacy, and that scares me. I can only hope and pray that things change for the better.


  1. This may sound like just an excuse but I wonder...maybe stress in our society is just a lot? I know not everyone reaches for books when they are stressed (I do! But I know that's not everyone).

  2. The idea that young people (and soon to be adults) are not reading is just so sad. Reading has always been such a pleasure for me. And, while I enjoy the occasional movie or TV series, there is just nothing like a good book. Reading used to be a good way to escape stress. I think today's devices add to some of the stress people try to use for escape. There is always the new app, the new download, and often, the new malfunction that needs to be corrected. Phones and iPads nag you to get this and to get that -- never any escape from ads and commercials. Really, constant noise. Whereas a book is a quiet invitation to slip away from it all.